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Some of the most serious types of crimes you can face accusations for are sex crimes. Accusations of sexual assault, rape, or child molestation can ruin your reputation, destroy your relationships, lead to felony charges, and if convicted, result in a significant amount of time in prison, as well as registering as a sex offender. But under the umbrella of sex crimes is a commonly misunderstood offense that, in some cases, involves a consensual sexual relationship: statutory rape charges.

Regardless of consent, you can be charged with statutory rape if there is evidence you were sexually involved with a minor younger than 16-years-old, or an individual under the age of 18 with whom you share a certain relationship with – such as a student-teacher relationship.

If you have been arrested for participating in a sexual relationship with someone younger than you, call the Charlotte statutory rape lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. You may be part of a consensual relationship, yet still face serious criminal charges. To avoid being convicted of a sex crime, you need to work with an experienced and aggressive sex crimes lawyer.

Call us today at (980) 237-4579, or reach out online to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

The Age of Consent in North Carolina

The age at which a minor is legally able to consent to sexual intercourse is 16-years-old. However, North Carolina’s age of consent law has exceptions.

Minors younger than 16-years-old can lawfully engage in consensual sexual intercourse with someone who is within four years of their age. A 15-year-old may lawfully have consensual sex with an 18-year-old. Though the 15-year-old is below the age of consent in NC, the state has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to its statutory rape law.

There is also an exception in which minors older than 16 cannot lawfully consent to sexual intercourse. In North Carolina, an employee of a school cannot participate in any sexual activity with any student at that school unless the parties are married.

North Carolina Statutory Rape Laws

North Carolina has several statutes that address sexual intercourse with minors. If prosecutors believe there is evidence you had an unlawful sexual relationship with such an individual, you will face sex crime charges under one, or several, of the following:

Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult – NCGS §14-27.23
You can be charged and convicted of statutory rape if you are at least 18-years-old, and you engage in vaginal intercourse with a minor who is under the age of 13. This offense is classified as a class B1 felony.

First-Degree Statutory Rape – NCGS §14-27.24
You can be charged with first-degree statutory rape if you engage in vaginal intercourse with a victim under the age of 13, while you are at least 12 years old and at least four years older than the victim. This is a Class B1 felony.

Statutory Rape of a Person Who is 15 Years of Age or Younger – NCGS §14-27.25
If you engage in vaginal intercourse with a minor who is 15-years-old or younger, and you are at least 12-years-old and at least six years older than the other party, you may face class B1 felony charges. You can be convicted of a class C felony for this offense if you engage in intercourse with someone younger than 15, while you are at least 12-years-old and between four and six years older than the alleged victim. The only exception to this statute is if you were married to the other party.

Statutory Sex Offense with a Child by an Adult – NCGS §14-27.28
You also can be charged and convicted of a class B1 felony if you are at least 18-years-old and you engage in a sexual act with a child who is under 13-years-old.

First-Degree Statutory Sex Offense – NCGS §14-27.29
You may be charged with a class B1 felony if you engage in a sexual act with a child who is under 13 years of age, and you are at least 12-years-old, and at least four years older than the victim.

Statutory Sex Offense with a Person Who is 15 Years of Age or Younger – NCGS §14-27.30
You can be charged with a class B1 felony if you engage in a sexual act with someone 15 years or younger, and you are at least 12-years-old and at least six years older than the other person. You may face class C felony charges if the alleged victim is younger than 15, and you are at least 12 years old and are four to six years older than them.

If you have been arrested or are under investigation for having sex with or performing another sexual act with someone 15 years or younger, call our Charlotte statutory rape lawyers as soon as possible.

Mistake of Age is Not a Defense

In North Carolina, statutory rape is a strict liability offense. That means that if you committed the act with someone who was within the age range, then you are guilty. It does not matter if the person told you they were 18 or older, or if you saw an ID that stated they were older. In this case, even an honest mistake or misunderstanding does not relieve you of the liability of statutory rape. If the person was not, in fact, at least 18, then you can be convicted of statutory rape.

Statutory Rape Jail Time

If you are convicted of a class C or B1 felony in North Carolina, then you face a significant amount of time in prison. The potential length of your sentence depends on North Carolina’s felony punishment chart. When you are sentenced, the judge will look at both the level of your offense, the aggravating and/or mitigating factors in your case, and your prior criminal record.

For a Class C felony, you face between 44 and 182 months in prison.

For a Class B1 felony, you could be sentenced to anywhere between 144 and 240 years in prison, or a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

To gain a better understanding of the prison time you may face for statutory rape charges, call the Charlotte statutory rape attorneys at Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. We will carefully review the charges against you and your criminal history to advise you of a potential sentence.

Sex Offender Registration

If you are convicted of statutory rape or a statutory sex offense, you will be required to register as a sex offender, in addition to imprisonment. The statutory penalty requiring you to register as a sex offender will have long term consequences to your daily life because the sex offender registry is a public database. For years after conviction and after you complete your sentence, your name, face, personal information, and criminal history will be public. You may have to tell people you were convicted of a sex crime on applications, and it may come up in immigration and child custody conversations.

To avoid such a punitive outcome, you need to work with a Charlotte statutory rape lawyer to defend yourself.

The Statutory Rape Statute of Limitations

For some crimes, prosecutors face a statute of limitations. This means they have a specific amount of time to bring the charges against you. After that time, if they attempt to file charges, the judge will likely dismiss the case.

However, for felony sex crimes, North Carolina prosecutors have no statute of limitations. This means there is no time limit for how long prosecutors have to file felony statutory rape charges against you. That being said, prosecutors prefer to file charges as soon as they can to work with fresh evidence.